by Kristin Casale

Reporter

Munroe Falls -- A retirement facility slated for the former Triple Crown Restaurant site is one step closer to opening in the community.

During its July 24 meeting, Planning Commission unanimously recommended City Council approve a zoning change for the Route 91 facility's proposed commercially-zoned location. The commission's recommendation calls for an amendment to the city's zoning code that would allow retirement facilities to be built in commercial zones, with conditions.

The zoning change was requested by Oregon-based company Holiday Retirement, which wants to build a 125-suite retirement facility for senior citizens at 335 S. Main St. The 3.2-acre property, which currently comprises the now-closed Triple Crown Restaurant, is for sale for $1.2 million.

Dan Roach, an architect with Oregon firm Curry Brandaw Architects, said Holiday Retirement is affiliated with XL Management Co., the firm that owns Mulberry Gardens, the assisted living facility next to the Triple Crown site.

He said Holiday Retirement is in the process of purchasing the land, stating the company has an agreement with Triple Crown that prohibits the restaurant representatives from negotiating with anyone else until the city decides whether to approve Holiday Retirement's application. Roach said the sale will become final if the plan is approved.

Planning Commission Chairperson Mark Ferguson said city officials also considered changing the property from a commercial zone to a residential zone, but they decided against the proposal.

"If it stays as a [commercial] use it would still allow office buildings," he said. "If it's opened up as a [residential use] you lose control. The city needs a good commercial base."

The retirement home planned for the commercially-zoned Triple Crown site would serve 130 people and could comprise three to four stories, according to Roach. The commission also recommended the structure comprise at least 100 units if its use changes in the future to ensure the building does not become a small-scale residential facility.

Ferguson said he believes the site should retain its commercial character and blend with the surrounding commercial businesses.

Mayor Frank Larson agreed.

"We feel this is a win-win situation," he said. "Looking down the road, it could be changed to a skilled nursing center or office" if the developer wants to change the use.

The zoning change is expected to be reviewed by Council during its Aug. 21 meeting, according to Deputy Clerk of Council Amy Locy, who said the city must advertise a public hearing for the issue several weeks before Council can review the change.

If Council approves the zoning change, the company will return to the Planning Commission so the group can review the developers' construction plan.

Details of construction

Clifford Curry, co-owner of the architecture firm, estimated it would take 11 months to build the 32,505-square-foot facility, stating he hopes to begin in August. He said it would cost $15 million for the construction.

Curry said the individual suites would be rented to the occupants at an average cost of $2,000 per month.

Roach said the residents' meals and housekeeping would be part of the cost of living, and van services would be provided. Additional common areas, such as an activity room and library, would be included in the design, he said.

Roach said four managers would staff the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week and live in the building. Additional staff members also would work with the residents, he said, stating 14 full-time equivalent employees are expected to staff the site.

E-mail: kcasale@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3917